What’s valuable?

Child artworkClient centered play therapy has a very interesting stance regarding the child’s play. If, during play therapy, the child comes up to you and shows you a picture, the therapist is discouraged from saying, “Good Job!” Instead, the therapeutic response is to encourage the child that they made it just the way that they wanted to. Something like, “It looks like you got it just the way you wanted to, you put the blues there, the green there, the puppy is over in the corner.” Part of the rationale is to help the child enjoy their own creation without the need for praise or approval. I would take it a step further and say that the child is learning to have a better relationship with him or herself.

So much of healthy living involves having a healthy relationship with ourselves. The tension and paradox is that so much of health also relies on having a healthy relationship with others. It is one of the great tensions in life because it can never be reduced or resolved without significant compromise to healthy happy living. The individual that chooses their own company to the exclusion of all else will be isolated and, according to current research, will actually cause neurological damage to the brain. On the other hand the person that chooses others to the exclusion of self will ultimately lose themselves. So, with that in mind, I approach the idea of having a better relationship with you, understanding that it comes as one end of a spectrum.

As we talk of having a good relationship with self there is a tension, a pull toward community and that tension can never be resolved. When the child learns to enjoy what he or she has created without the need for praise two things begin to happen. The first is that the process rather than the product becomes more important. But the second is that the child becomes his or her own audience (this also has to do with process verses product). He or she can enjoy their own creations and this is the start of being good company for oneself. When we feel alone, the degree of our despair can also have to do with how much joy our own company brings. How proud can we be of ourselves? How easily can we brag to ourselves? Comfort and love ourselves? Are we good company? I would encourage you that one step in becoming better company for yourself is to begin to create something and enjoy yourself as the audience. Revel in your work and brag to yourself. Your creations don’t always need approval and the music you create never falls on deaf ears.

As I said, there is always a tension between getting wrapped up in yourself and getting wrapped up in others, but for this moment, spend some time enjoying you. Get lost in the epic and intriguing story of your life. In this story you are both author and audience, allow yourself to truly appreciate your story. Getting validation from others is wonderful, but it needs to start with validating and appreciating ourselves- allowing ourselves to define, at times, what is valuable and noteworthy.

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